Gender Roles in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

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“If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?”(Mary Astell). Throughout American history, women have always been viewed as inferior to males. Some women have the privilege to have a career; however, during the 1950s, many black women were unable to pursue their dreams. Women today remain belongs to this patriarchal stereotype of being the caretakers for their family but are given no recognition for the influences that each have on the growing society.

Throughout the 1970s, black women faced many challenges, as they falsely believed they had no role in the women’s movement, as it mainly pertained to white women. African American women persevere in fighting for the rights they deserve, yet many fail to reach their accomplishments due to the ranking and position of men. When in today’s society, one would expect women and men to be seen as equals, the patriarchal ways of the 1970s still withstand. The play, A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry, exemplifies the juxtaposition of how African American women are perceived, contrasting from men.

According to Linda L. Black and David Stone, the word privilege is a special advantage, not earned by a person’s talent, but by the classification he or she is in. Many people, specifically those who are Caucasian, are oblivious to the recognition he or she receives. White people do not acknowledge the advantages he or she acquires and are “given considerable power to escape many kinds of danger”(McIntosh 11). The preponderance a European American obtains is superior to those of color.

For instance, white people are often not penalized for the poor decisions he or she makes, yet African American people are held accountable to take responsibility for the wrongdoing. Those who are not able to distinguish the discrepancy between the treatment of Caucasian and African American people are the reason racial privilege still exists. Most males do not recognize the privilege he is given from the time of birth to death.

A man’s, reluctance to confess that he is privileged, seems to create a major impact on a woman’s life. Women who work for hours each day do not receive the same respect a man would who has the same job. Gender roles have been prevalent for thousands of years and “by trapping men in culturally expected behavior” has allowed this role to continue to present day (Black and Stone 6). Men are brought into this world, expected to behave a certain way because of the position each are put into. If people of all color were respected equally, the topic of privilege would not be a dispute in America.

Gender roles have always supierorized the male race, the privileges of men was unequal compared to those of women in the 1970s. In her play, A Raisin the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry demonstrates how gender roles are apparent in home and social aspects through the character Walter, and his wife Ruth, and sister Beneatha. The patriarchal stereotype is consistent all through the play, and the reader can interpret the minor details in the characters words.

When the Younger family realizes they arereceiving ten-thousand dollars for the loss of their father, one recognizes the change in attitude of each family member. Walter expects Ruth to manage the household, which contains five family members. Walter assumes Ruth should supervise Travis, their eleven- year old son, while he gets drunk almost every night. Although Ruth is only thirty years old, Walter causes her weariness and constantly forcing her to do his work. Walter is dissatisfied with the life Ruth provides him, yet he gives her nothing in return; therefore she feels as though he “needs something [she] can’t give him anymore”(Hansberry 187).

Ruth has a sense that she cannot give Walter anymore of her love because she is fatigued and overworked. In Walter’s mind, money is a man’s one and only focus and explains to Ruth that women do not sense how men are superior. Ruth is a determined, and hard working woman, but men show her no respect. Towards the end of the play, Walter realizes all the things he has done wrong, and believes he is“a man- and [he] think[s] [his] wife should wear some pearls” because he wants buy the upscale and expensive things, but he has not money to do so (Hansberry 143). Pearls were cherished in the late 1950s because few women, particularly black women, were unable to possess them because of their position in the culture.

Cite this paper

Gender Roles in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. (2021, Nov 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/gender-roles-in-a-raisin-in-the-sun-by-lorraine-hansberry/



How are gender roles shown in raisin in the sun?
In Raisin in the Sun, the traditional gender roles are shown through the characters' actions and dialogue. The men are shown as the providers and the women are shown as the homemakers.
How is feminism shown in A Raisin in the Sun?
Feminism is shown in A Raisin in the Sun through the characters of Lena, Beneatha, and Ruth. They are all strong women who are fighting for what they believe in and what they want in life.
What are some ways Beneatha defies gender norms?
Beneatha defies gender norms by wearing masculine clothing and by working on a career in science.
What are the roles of male and female?
For example, girls and women are generally expected to dress in typically feminine ways and be polite, accommodating, and nurturing. Men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold . Every society, ethnic group, and culture has gender role expectations, but they can be very different from group to group.
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